Bit Of Me Time

Searching for more time …


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Book Club – Chapter 13

After a really busy day I dusted off my bike, put the all important bottle in the basket and headed off to the Book Wine club.  It was a lovely evening for a cycle and good to see everyone again.  I was quite disappointed as I had not managed to finish the book, mostly due to not being able to keep my eyes open – I fear I read one paragraph several times.  The general reviews were a bit mixed, most had read it, and most enjoyed it, especially the way it was written.  The main criticism about the book was it seemed to be more a book of short stories, rather than one story.  I would still like to finish it, but after hearing that some did not like the ending and others felt certain chapters were disjointed, then perhaps I’ll skip it for now and read it later.  As ever a great evening was had by all.

Husband SecretThe next book for us is “The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty.  We agreed that we must all read it, or we’ll not be able to discuss it at the next meeting because of the secret.  It sounds intriguing.

The really weird thing was that at work my colleague, in a different book club, have chosen the same book.  It will be interesting to see what the two book clubs think of the book.

We have not had two book clubs really close together, I merely “misplaced” my blog during the summer.

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One week of 5:2

Well, I have taken the plunge to try the 5:2 diet. My main drive was the “middle age spread” that comes from a desk job and too much grazing on the endless supply of food that is around. Having piled on the pounds the idea of not eating all day filled me with horror and proved a great excuse to delay for many weeks.  However after recommendations such as “it’s a lazy man’s diet”, “it’s really OK and I look forward to fasting days” I thought that maybe I could survive for one day.  After all, it’s not about not eating, it’s about cutting down the calories to a mere 500.

I’ve asked lots of people about it and know lots who follow it, and I know that the longer the time you fast, the more your body can repair.  This is the unproved bit.  I also think it is something that can be tailor-made, not everyone eats only breakfast and supper, some split their 500 calories between three meals, some fast from 2pm for a day, some keep all their calories for one meal in the evening.  So, I got the book (the one with some sample menus, at the back) and shopped in advance, got prepared and went for it.

Fast dietI choose, like many people a Monday and a Thursday.  I know I could not have two consecutive days together without food.  I may have a sedentary desk job, but I do have a very busy life with two small children and a hard-working husband.  I swim on a Wednesday so that was out, and I was not going to fast over the weekend.

My first breakfast was two eggs and some ham – a total of 256.  It was only half way through the day that I realised I had not worked out which supper to have because I’d not chosen my meals looking at the total calories for the day.  I am sure breakfast needs to be smaller in future.  The day was, honestly, not fun… at all.  I thought about food all day.  Luckily I’m stubborn, so I stuck to it.  I had a headache by lunchtime which did not go away.  I was not enjoying any of the (forgive the terminology) “poofy teas”, as I very rudely call herbal etc teas.  The might smell OK, but they tasted of nothing.  I normally drink white coffee, so that was out.  I missed my coffee.  I filled up with fizzy water, can of diet coke and more water.  I still had a headache.  I left work, got the children into bed and settled down to a supper of roasted veg – it was delicious, and whilst it did not fill me up, it was better than nothing!

Unfortunately, I then had to bake cakes and cookies for Husband’s birthday the following day.  I filled up the sink with soapy water and the minute the spoon or bowl came too close – I chucked them into the sink.  I’ve never baked without “tasting” or “cleaning” spoons afterwards.  Once done, I went to bed to avoid the temptation.

I had survived the first fast day, but it was a bit grim, and more so than I had expected.  At least tomorrow I could eat.

Before this sounds totally despondent, there was a definite very good plus point – other than the 2lbs I’d lost – I knew that feeling hungry was OK.  Feeling hungry did not mean I had to grab the nearest biscuit, bread, kid’s leftovers.  I understood that I don’t need to give in to every opportunity of food, and there are many during the day.  We went out for supper with family and I had a starter, a salad main and a pudding.  I was full, but not uncomfortably full.  I felt really chuffed.  Previously I would have been very greedy – “oh well I don’t go out often,  I can have whatever I want” and it was a reason to eat as much as possible, followed by feeling really full and then hungry the next day.  On the fasting days, I have eaten much less, but really tasted what I was eating.

My second fast day was much easier.  Black coffee with sweeteners meant a welcome return to coffee, which helped.  I’m not addicted, but I do enjoy a cuppa or two during the day.  I also knew that I could do it, I had a smaller breakfast, which meant a bigger supper, and I knew that the next day I could eat.

So, one week in, would I recommend it?  Yes.  I’ve lost 4lbs overall, although this weekend, and a brownie, some wine etc may not have helped, I know that tomorrow I can fast again.  In fact this week, with a couple of social events, I may only be able to fast on one day, not two, but that’s OK.  I know I can do it and I’m not going to be hard on myself if occasionally it is only for one day a week.

My advice if you’re unsure – give it a go.  Be prepared, be honest about what times of the day might be hard, and have something nearby!


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Book Club – Chapter 11

Well, it was my turn this time and it’s taken me quite a while to choose a book – there are so many good ones out there.  I reduced the list to 7 and almost made the final choice by closing my eyes and picking one.  However, I did manage to make a grown up decision, and our next book will be “Jasmine Nights” by Julia Gregson.

Jasmine

We have also persuaded someone to join our club to “replace” the friend who moved to KL last year.  I’m not sure if she has had a chance to read the book, but it was great fun to get her round the table for a few glasses and a giggle.  Again I used my friends as “guinea pigs” and tried out “Vodka Pasta” by Nigella Lawson and an easy pudding of Eton Mess.  All yummy, even though I say it myself.  The other issue I had to deal with, was a great idea started by “long lost friend” that when you host the Book Club you also have to write a poem, read it out and email it to her.  It’s still on my “to do” list.

This post seems to be backwards, as I’ve started with the new book, then the meal and poem and am only now getting round to discussing the book we were reading – “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes.  I loved it.  It is about a young girl who gets a job looking after a young man in a wheelchair, after an accident, for which she has no experience.  I thought the way she described how he felt about his disability, the frustration, the loss of his old life, the lack of decisions that he was left to make, and all the other emotions was amazing.  I felt her frustrations too, of trying to chivvy him on and get him to do something.   I have no personal experience of knowing anyone in a wheelchair, and these are just my ramblings, but it has certainly made me think about the bigger picture.  It was a wonderful read and we all ended with tears falling down our cheeks.  This is our second book by Jojo Moyes and I’ll be back for more soon.


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Book Club – Chapter 10

This weeks’ book club was in the village, so I dusted off my bike, which now has a kick-stand, and I have just discovered that kick-stands do not stand on gravel, they sink.  It also has some very bright new lights and it was really cool to be able to see where I was going, at last.  The evening was as fun as ever and with very yummy food.  We are also trying to fill our vacant space, so there maybe eight of us again soon.

“Gold” by Chris Cleave was a great book.  It is about two Olympic track cyclists, the story on and off the track and their preparation for winning gold.  There was a good balance between the training and track-side, as well as the personal lives of the riders.  I really got involved with the characters, and felt for them when times were tough, and relieved for them when it went their way.  For me it was really difficult to put down.  I don’t think when it was chosen that everyone around the table was looking forward to it, but I read it pretty quickly.  I would definitely recommend it.

The next book is “You Before Me” by Jojo Moyes. Me Before You

BOOK CLUB HISTORY: “One Day” by David Nicholls; “Before I Go To Sleep” by S J Watson; “Ship of Brides” by Jojo Moyes; “Vanishing Point” by Danielle Ramsay; “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E L James; “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri; “Sworn Secret” by Amanda Jennings; “The Seamstress” by Maria Duenas; “The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window and Disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson; “Is it just me?” by “Miranda Hart and “Gold” by Chris Cleave


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Book Club – Chapter 9

Last week was “International Book Club”.  However, before you start thinking grand thoughts, I should explain.  Six of us are from the village, and one is from the town on the hill, only about 2 miles away.  For “Chapter 9” we all piled into a Range Rover and ventured up the hill.  We did get slightly lost, but made it in the end.

We should have been meeting up before now, but as we in the South West, are not used to an excesses of snow, it was decided to postpone.  Having been there, down the steep drive to the farm, I can say that this was a wise choice!

Although this meant it was a book club on 4-wheels, rather than 2-wheels, there was only one driver.  Last time we discussed the book in depth, and then the conversation turned to Spanish History!  Were we becoming a proper “grown up” book club?  This time the wine flowed, the book was discussed and it was another very enjoyable evening.

As there was a Christmas gap since our last gathering, we treated ourselves to two books “The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window and Disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson and “Is it just me?” by “Miranda Hart.

The first book I really enjoyed, it was about a man who was recently moved into a old people’s home, but did not want to be there, nor celebrate his 100th birthday there, so he jumped out of the window and let events take their course.  The book tells of the present day and also how he had spent the majority of his 100 years!  As an explosive expert he ends up in all sorts of amusing and historical situations; the book is funny, easy to read and I would certainly recommend it.

The second book “Is it just me?” by Miranda Hart, I did not do so well with.  I found it quite tricky to read, as at the start it is written exactly how she speaks in her TV programme.  This one was not for me, and I was not alone, although others did enjoy it.

Our book club is now one year old and we have decided that we will change the way we choose our books.  So far they have been by mutual agreement, and now we’ve decided that the host chooses.  This should lead to a greater variety of books chosen, and so stretch us, rather than stick to our comfort zone.  There are several books in the last year that I would not have picked, and only two that I could not finish.

goldNext on the list “Gold” by Chris Cleave.  This one was a surprise choice by the host, and one that I’m really looking forward to.  It is about two female track cyclists preparing for the Olympics, their competitive history together, mixed with their personal lives and their friendship.  As a keen follower of cycling generally, I’m really looking forward to it.

BOOK CLUB HISTORY: “One Day” by David Nicholls; “Before I Go To Sleep” by S J Watson; “Ship of Brides” by Jojo Moyes; “Vanishing Point” by Danielle Ramsay; “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E L James; “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri; “Sworn Secret” by Amanda Jennings; “The Seamstress” by Maria Duenas; “The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window and Disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson and “Is it just me?” by “Miranda Hart


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Book Club – Chapter 8

Our latest book club was on another very wet evening, so there were move of us using 4-wheels instead of 2!  Our planning of the weather has slipped somewhat recently! It was, of course, great to see everyone and also gave us the chance to check-out a friend’s recently built extension in the house we were meeting up in, all very exciting.

Our book was “The Seamstress”, and for the first time, I did not reach the end!  So here’s a bit about the book ….. It is set in Spain in 1936 on the brink of civil war.  The lead character, Sira Quiroga, was apprenticed to a Madrid dressmaker. As she masters the seamstress’s art, her life seems to be clearly mapped out – until she falls passionately in love and flees with her seductive lover.   But in Morocco she is betrayed and left penniless. As civil war engulfs Spain, Sira turns to her one true skill – and sews beautiful clothes for the expat elite and their German friends.   With Europe rumbling towards war, Sira is lured back to Franco’s Nazis-friendly Spain. She is drawn into the shadowy world of espionage and where the greatest danger lies. . .  I enjoyed the bit of the book I read, although it did not particularly “take me with it”, and I did manage to put it down; I suspect this was partly due to the fact that I have been extremely tired.

It was the first book that split the group, and one of the few books that we have really discussed in detail.  We also chatted about Spanish history at that time. It was great and I think we maybe heading towards being a “real book club”, rather than a “wine club”!  Afterwards we skyped our long lost book club member in KL, and had a quick chat via an iPhone.  Brilliant.100 year old man

Is it just me

As we have a longer break than normal before the next book club, we are attempting two books – “The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window and Disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson and “Is it just me” by “Miranda Hart.  Both are apparently very funny….

BOOK CLUB HISTORY: “One Day” by David Nicholls; “Before I Go To Sleep” by S J Watson; “Ship of Brides” by Jojo Moyes; “Vanishing Point” by Danielle Ramsay; “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E L James; “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri; “Sworn Secret” by Amanda Jennings and “The Seamstress” by Maria Duenas.


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Book Club – Chapter 7

I have just read Sworn Secret by Amanda Jennings. I loved it.  I recommended it to the Book Club after it was recommended by Sarah Miles (Hello Wall).  I started reading it and thought, oh this is a bit sad, but as I read on, I was more and more engrossed.   It is well written and full of twists and turns that ensure you don’t put the book down!  The more I read, the more I was reluctant to put it down and go to work.  The characters were interesting and very likeable, and for me, the strength of the book is the family.  Tragedy is all around, but the family unit is at the heart, through it’s faults, differences and underlying love.  It gives hope in a hopeless situation.  My friends in the book club enjoyed it, and one is expecting it to be made into an ITV drama.

Our book club was a quiet affair compared to normal, mainly because we were three down in number, and it was a dark, wet night, so more car drivers than bike ridersl!  Here’s hoping for some drier weather next time.

We were talking about our great friend that left, and who should fill her shoes (if anyone can).  We even have a waiting list to join!!  It’s mainly due to the fact that we don’t want more than 8 in the group, so that we can all fit around each others’ tables, and we don’t have a group that splits into two.

Our next book is “The Seamstress” by Maria Duenas.  It is a  story of danger, espionage, romance and war, The Seamstress is a WWII tale like no other.

 

 

BOOKS SO FAR:  “One Day” by David Nicholls; “Before I Go To Sleep” by S J Watson; “Ship of Brides” by Jojo Moyes; “Vanishing Point” by Danielle Ramsay; “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E L James; “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri and “Sworn Secret” by Amanda Jennings.


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Book Club – Chapter 6

After a break over the summer we met in the pub to discuss our last book which meant that no one had to host.  It was, as ever, a very good book/wine club and great to catch up with everyone.  We did raise our glasses to “absent friends”, as one of the original members now lives in Kuala Lumpur.  Unfortunately the time difference will mean that she can’t join us on skype very easily, but we might try one time to see how it works.  We cycled to the pub, and whilst we were quite abstemious on the whole, the journey home was still a little wobbly and noisy.

The book we have just read is “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri is a series of 8 short stories.  It was a great read with all stories slightly entwined, and nothing like the fast page turners we had previously read.  I would definitely recommend it.

Our next book is Amanda Jennings debut book called “Sworn Secret” and recommended by a friend who said, she cooked the kid’s tea with one hand and read with another, it was too good to put down.  I’m looking forward to this one as I hear it is a page turner, with a plot that twists and turns…

BOOKS SO FAR:  “One Day” by David Nicholls; “Before I Go To Sleep” by S J Watson; “Ship of Brides” by Jojo Moyes; “Vanishing Point” by Danielle Ramsay and “50 Shades of Grey” by E L James and “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri.


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Book Club – Chapter 5

We have just had our last book club in it’s current form.  One of our gang is moving to Kuala Lumpur next month, so it was a bitter sweet evening.  We therefore chose an easy read because we did not have quite as much time as previously.  Our latest book was “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E L James.  Like so many I was very curious about it, with all the hype and comments that are “out there”.

My own view was that somehow it was compelling, whilst not brilliantly written and I did find myself skipping bits here and there.  I surprised myself by reading all three books, and have found that they merged into each other.  Without all the “Mummy Porn” it would probably only stretch to one book, but then it probably would have stayed on the shelf.  Our host played the music from “50 Shades” and we gossiped about whether Ann Summers had sold out of various “toys”, if husbands were having more fun and whether we’d see a baby-boom in 9 months’ time!  As for making this into a film, only time will tell.  Our conclusion though, was that E L James is a very wealthy lady, and well done to her.

So, we then turned our attention to the next book.  “Bleak House” by Dickins was suggested, as we all felt we needed something with more to it than a “kinky shag-fest”.  However we wimped out of this for the time being as we felt it would be more of a winter read.

Our next book certainly has more content to it.  We are reading “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri, which is eight stories that travel from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand explaining about the lives of sisters, brothers, fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, friends and lovers.  Jhumpa Lahiri is an internationally best-selling, Pulitzer Prize–winning author, and the stories in this book have been described as “longer and more emotionally complex than any she has yet written”.  I can’t wait.

 

The books we have read so far are: “One Day” by David Nicholls; “Before I Go To Sleep” by S J Watson; “Ship of Brides” by Jojo Moyes; “Vanishing Point” by Danielle Ramsay and “50 Shades of Grey” by E L James.


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Book Club – Chapter 4

Well, last week was book club and it was chez Adams.  I am not a great cook, so in my “wisdom”!  I decided to “treat” the girls to recipes I had never cooked before.  Thankfully Nigella came to the rescue, and we all survived.

It was a lovely girly chatty evening, accompanied by much wine.  It was tinged with sadness, as one of the original team is off to Kuala Lumpur – so sad.  So we will be squeezing in another book club before mid-August.  A quick read will be needed.

We had been reading Vanishing Point by Danielle Ramsay, which is a crime thriller, a bit gorey, but not a challenging read.  Two of us managed to fit in the second book “Broken Silence”.   As with previous books clubs, the wine flowed (maybe over-flowed) and when choosing our next book I have to say that the wine took charge at this point, and we are going for some ‘Mummy Porn’ – “50 Shades of Grey” by E L James.  I have since learned that one of the girls has bought all three books!

I will let you know how I get on, as I’ve not started it just yet.  Maybe the next one had better be more like ‘Bleak House’, or something similar!